Process for calibrating console?

Help Support GroupDIY:

jdurango

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 22, 2014
Messages
246
Brian Roth said:
LOL...a contributor on this forum...John Roberts....makes comments from time to time..."I need to soak this in beer".  <g>

My main effort was to work out the levels through the input module before following that signal through the rest of the desk...ie multitrack program outs/2 mix/aux buses/monitor outs/etc.  I've spent 45+ years dealing with analog desks.  Never worked with a SW series 40, but the signal flow looked VERY familiar compared to others from that time frame.

Also glad to know you have some very decent test gear instead of a Rat Shack $5.00 meter and "whistling into a mic" for a signal source <g>. 

I now need to study the SW docs for the rest of the desk to see how they dealt with internal levels and adjustments. 

I consider myself semi-retired but still take on a few projects. Happy to be of assistance!

Bri

Yeah at first I was using my Tek analog scope to monitor the generator as well as output from the console, but the waveform on the screen just wasn't clear enough to get a super accurate reading. Hooked up the Agilent instead and it's readout is matching the HP down to several decimal places! Awesome! Gotta love good tools.....and beer! Great combo!

This SW is a bit of a time vampire when it comes to maintenance (at least upfront), but a cool sleeper console. It was designed by the same folks who came up with many of the classic API circuits in the 70's before leaving API to start SW. Although the overall quality is nowhere near that of API (closer to MCI) I've been told directly by a former SW employee who shall remain nameless that the circuitry itself is about as close as they could get to some of the classic API stuff (512c preamp, 550 EQ) without getting sued. But from the research I did it seemed like a great board for the price ($free.99!!!) with the main downsides being crappy, low-value caps and a cheapo patchbay.

I had a buncha Switchcraft patchbays with Mogami tails laying around, so that was the first upgrade, then did double-capacitance and double-voltage Nichi UKZ, UPR, MUSE or Panasonic FM caps in the power supply and throughout the console where appropriate for their application + 5x value Nichicon MUSE main caps in the mic pres.....probably overkill, but hey, why not?

With extreme deference to taking up any more of your time, if you're going to check out the schems anyway, I can't help but ask your thoughts on how it compares to some of the classic API or other 1970's circuits from a design standpoint. I checked out your website and it's clear you have a lot of experience with a lot of different consoles, especially from that era! Your late 70's custom console looks awesome! I especially love the idea of the "D" switch to bypass unecessary circuitry on the busses!

I've tried looking for the 512c schems to compare with my pres (minus the xformer of course)....can't find them anywhere. According to my source this is due to an NDA which is still in effect. But xformer's not withstanding, my pres look nothing like the 312, for which schems are available. On the 550 I really have no clue....too much stuff going on. I know it definitely didn't use TL074's though lol

Anyway, thanks again for everything! I really can't express how much I appreciate the help!

Jonny
 

Brian Roth

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 20, 2005
Messages
1,702
Location
Salina Kansas
First of all, thanks for the kind remarks!

I know only a bit of info re. Sound Workshop.  I'm convinced that the wiki about API (and Sound Workshop) is incorrect:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automated_Processes,_Inc.

It states that Sid Zimet, Michael Tapes, and Saul Walker left API in 1978 to join Sound Workshop.  I am almost certain that Zimet and Tapes were  showing a small mixer (and maybe a spring reverb) at an AES show several years earlier.  It sticks in my mind...."Audio by Zimet" was on a sign at the booth.  Poking around with searches, it appears Audio by Zimet was a hifi shop in the NYC area.  I also recall seeing the name badge "Michael Tapes" and thinking to myself, what an interesting name!  1978 from wiki seems off to me, making me wonder if Zimet and Tapes were actually from API.  In my disorganized Pile of Files <g> in my garage .....it's never recovered from my move here to Kansas in 2014...I probably have some old Sound Workshop brochures which might shed light on the time frame.  Shrug!

ANYWAY...Saul Walker and Michael Tapes were definitely connected at SW.  I dunno what happened to Zimet, other than  finding he apparently died in a plane crash.

AHA!  I was just looking again for info on Zimet, and stumbled across Michael Tapes' facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/pg/Sound-Workshop-141199795936316/about/

1975 it says. 

So the wiki info is dubious.

So now....I'm gonna sing a Zepplin song and Ramble On.  <g>

In the 1980's, the large Japanese companies were on a buying binge.  Sony bought MCI. Mitsubishi bought Quad-Eight.  Otari bought Sound Workshop.

Early 90's, I was shopping for a new desk to replace the MCI 636 at the studio where I was Chief.  The Studio Manager and I traveled to NY and went out to the "Otari" (SW) factory on Long Island. 

Michal Tapes toured us around, and I was very pleased to spend some time with Saul Walker.  We ended up ordering an Otari Concept One desk, which is another story in itself (mostly OK).

Besides the Walker connection, I see little similarities between API and SW desks.  SW designs look similar to other popular desks from the time (MCI and and SSL...yes, those two share some common design aspects).  There are only so many ways to cram a bunch of IC opamps into a desk!  lol

/Ramble Off

Bri

 

jdurango

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 22, 2014
Messages
246
Brian Roth said:
First of all, thanks for the kind remarks!

I know only a bit of info re. Sound Workshop.  I'm convinced that the wiki about API (and Sound Workshop) is incorrect:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automated_Processes,_Inc.

It states that Sid Zimet, Michael Tapes, and Saul Walker left API in 1978 to join Sound Workshop.  I am almost certain that Zimet and Tapes were  showing a small mixer (and maybe a spring reverb) at an AES show several years earlier.  It sticks in my mind...."Audio by Zimet" was on a sign at the booth.  Poking around with searches, it appears Audio by Zimet was a hifi shop in the NYC area.  I also recall seeing the name badge "Michael Tapes" and thinking to myself, what an interesting name!  1978 from wiki seems off to me, making me wonder if Zimet and Tapes were actually from API.  In my disorganized Pile of Files <g> in my garage .....it's never recovered from my move here to Kansas in 2014...I probably have some old Sound Workshop brochures which might shed light on the time frame.  Shrug!

ANYWAY...Saul Walker and Michael Tapes were definitely connected at SW.  I dunno what happened to Zimet, other than  finding he apparently died in a plane crash.

AHA!  I was just looking again for info on Zimet, and stumbled across Michael Tapes' facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/pg/Sound-Workshop-141199795936316/about/

1975 it says. 

So the wiki info is dubious.

So now....I'm gonna sing a Zepplin song and Ramble On.  <g>

In the 1980's, the large Japanese companies were on a buying binge.  Sony bought MCI. Mitsubishi bought Quad-Eight.  Otari bought Sound Workshop.

Early 90's, I was shopping for a new desk to replace the MCI 636 at the studio where I was Chief.  The Studio Manager and I traveled to NY and went out to the "Otari" (SW) factory on Long Island. 

Michal Tapes toured us around, and I was very pleased to spend some time with Saul Walker.  We ended up ordering an Otari Concept One desk, which is another story in itself (mostly OK).

Besides the Walker connection, I see little similarities between API and SW desks.  SW designs look similar to other popular desks from the time (MCI and and SSL...yes, those two share some common design aspects).  There are only so many ways to cram a bunch of IC opamps into a desk!  lol

/Ramble Off

Bri

Hey Brian,

Just saw this. I ended up getting the console mostly calibrated, although having a little trouble getting the master VU's to reflect level accurately, that's not a big deal right now. I'll mess with it later.

Anyway, I remember a thread on GS that pretty much went exactly like you mentioned. Some talk about how SW wasn't really that similar to API, more like MCI's, and then some talk about the former API guys plugging SW @ AES in the 70's, specifically Michael Tapes. According to one poster:

"Ha.. Sound Workshop! Those guys were a hoot to talk with at AES shows. Michael Tapes... cool guy. I suppose everyone knows the SW guys invented the automation for MCI. And then put it in their consoles too as they staged that simultaneous market attack to try and grab both MCI's pro and Tascam's suddenly-exploding home market.

I also remember when the transzamp hit. Seemed to be a big deal in R-E-P articles at the time. I do remember SW doing big promotion of their console pres (I still have all their AES brochures etc), but don't remember the promos being specifically under a tranzamp type name. Maybe they were. I'll have to check."

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/1009697-mci-style-preamps-2.html

A little more digging, apparently these Transamp pres were used in MCI 400 and 500 consoles too, the former of which I've always heard great things about sonically, and I know a lot of great records were cut with them, including on the 416A at Muscle Shoals. Those consoles are beautifully built with API faders and inductor EQ's....I'm sure they sound amazing too. If this SW can come close to that sound quality, but with far more I/O options, more modern features (spectrum analyzer, hi-res meters, etc) and more flexible EQ, I'll be very happy with it. Muscle Shoals was also using a JH24 at that time, which is what I'll be tracking to, so I feel like I should be able to nail that sound pretty well! My goal was closer to an older 60's Motown sound.....but can't exactly afford a custom built Langevin ;)

We started some basic testing with the Series 40 now that it's all up and running. I haven't put it through it's paces or done any real work with it because of this whole corona craziness, but the preliminary testing was VERY promising. Sounded very vibey and warm in a smooth, buttery way, not that crappy muffled muddy way. I can't wait to put the EQ's through their paces. It's extremely quiet now with all the new caps. I'm going to single out at least two channels as mod candidates to see what happens with "upgraded" 5534 and LF351 op amps (probably use OPA or Burr Brown), and added transformers (similar to it's brother the 1600).

Anyway, hope you're doing well and staying safe!

JD
 

jdurango

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 22, 2014
Messages
246
I think some SW's even used the same little Beyer transformers as the MCI 416. Seems a lot of people love to hate these things, but I have an Ampex MX10 with little undersized Beyer "peanut" transformers that I think sound great. Yeah, they distort early, especially in the low end....but that's the whole vibe of that sound/era! Nice soft distortion and added harmonics!

A lot of people toss those xformers in favor of "better" modern ones...might have to keep an eye out for some orphans looking for a new loving home ;)
 

gridcurrent

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 28, 2009
Messages
590
jdurango said:
A little more digging, apparently these Transamp pres were used in MCI 400 and 500 consoles too, the former of which I've always heard great things about sonically, and I know a lot of great records were cut with them, including on the 416A at Muscle Shoals. Those consoles are beautifully built with API faders and inductor EQ's....I'm sure they sound amazing too. If this SW can come close to that sound quality, but with far more I/O options, more modern features (spectrum analyzer, hi-res meters, etc) and more flexible EQ, I'll be very happy with it. Muscle Shoals was also using a JH24 at that time,
which "lot" of great records?
as of early 1976, Muscle Shoals had the infamous Flickinger and a 16 track with AC motors.
whatever console was installed for 24 track  only lasted a couple of years as the outfit moved to the new facility on the river,  fitted with Neves.
 

jdurango

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 22, 2014
Messages
246
gridcurrent said:
which "lot" of great records?
as of early 1976, Muscle Shoals had the infamous Flickinger and a 16 track with AC motors.
whatever console was installed for 24 track  only lasted a couple of years as the outfit moved to the new facility on the river,  fitted with Neves.

Yeah I guess you're right....not much of anything notable was cut on MCI consoles in the 70's  ::)
 

jdurango

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 22, 2014
Messages
246
Brian Roth said:
BS!!!! Tons  of 70's hits were tracked on MCI desks and recorders.

Haha, yeah, I was being sarcastic. That's like saying Mackies weren't used muched for mixing live sound in the 90's. I'm pretty sure MCI's were outselling API's and Neves by something like 5 to 1 in the 70's. Beegees, AC/DC, Eric Clapton are just a few I can think of off the top of my head. I really don't know how long Muscle Shoals had their 416 in the 70's, and I don't really care to try to figure it out, but they were cranking out lots of great stuff in the 70's, so even if it was "only a few years" I'm sure lots of great records were cut on it.

Anyway, really hoping my SW has some of that same mojo with the similar design topology and transamp based pre's. If I can get close to a MCI 400 or 500 sound, without those god awful red IC sockets, cold solder/crappy molex, but WITH parametric EQ, 8 auxes, and 24 busses I'll be a happy camper! I'll definitely post examples. The sound I'm going for is very Motown/Staxx/Muscle Shoals. Honestly may run some sources through old tube pres first to give em some grit/harmonics....but generally will be tracking straight through the console to a JH24 and out to either an Ampex 354 or ATR102.

JD
 
Top